Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can E-Books Replace P-Books?

The e-book versus p-book debate continues. Scott Esposito over at Conversational Reading explains why he thinks e-books will never fully replace p-books:

Obviously I'm a book-lover, so I'll always want some books around me, and I still enjoy the experience of reading a book more than reading an ebook. But even if I imagined a future where I liked reading ebooks better, I could still think of certain things books brought to the table that are unique to them.

My point here is that some media, like CDs, seem to just be clunky delivery systems. That is, downloads are a far better delivery system than CDs, and now that we have downloads I don't see any reason to keep using CDs. There's nothing intrinsic to them that seems worth preserving. This is no doubt partly due to the fact that we've only had CDs for about 25 years now, so they haven't had a chance to become an essential cultural object.

But something like books has a much longer history and has had the time to become woven into the cultural fabric of our lives. It's become more than just a means of elivery, and people seem loath to ditch them for that reason.

I tend to agree with Scott that physical books carry some weight as cultural objects beyond their pure utility as text-delivery devices. People like to have them around on bookshelves, even if they don’t read them. The comments to Scott’s post track an interesting discussion.


Dave said...

I'm with you. Some things I'll miss when e-books rule the world: book jackets, bookmarks, shelves, the heft of nonfiction, the sprightliness of a poetry collection -- and falling asleep with a book balanced on my stomach.

Zibilee said...

I just can't get on board with e-books, there is just something annoying to me about trying to read an entire book off of a electronic device. Maybe one day I will change my mind, but I don't think so.